Pros: Fantastic comprehensive guide to composting
Rating: 5 out of 5
Also published at Epinions.com.
If you’re going to garden, what better way to help out your garden’s health than by composting? The idea of turning a whole bunch of kitchen and garden scraps into rich, nutritious soil for your garden is appealing to me. It means not wasting those baby carrots that are past their prime or the lettuce that went bad. It means not adding six bags of dead leaves to a landfill. It means not having to pay for, pick up and haul around another bag or two of heavy topsoil from a gardening store. It makes the heavy, clay-packed soil in front of our house looser, so I can plant herbs there, and it makes the sandy soil thicker, so I can plant tomatoes and peppers. It introduces healthy microorganisms into the soil and encourages helpful critters like earthworms to stick around.
It improves your garden, saves you money, and reduces the waste your household produces. How’s that for a win-win situation?
Composting, in case you aren’t terribly familiar with it yet, is simply the practice of allowing waste matter to rot and decompose until it’s fit to be tilled right into the soil. However, while the basic concept is as old as mother nature and often very easy to execute, it also helps to know more about it. What materials should you compost, and which should you avoid? Do you have to worry about animals or flies in your compost? How do you make sure your compost will turn into dirt and not a slimy, stinky sludge?
While nearly every gardening book these days has a section on composting and most of these are enough to get you by, Stu Campbell’s Let It Rot! is an entertaining, folksy and in-depth take on the art that will see you through nearly any foreseeable difficulty. I was certainly able to successfully compost with the simpler directions in other books, but there’s information in here I wish I’d had back when I first started. For instance, now I know the cobweb-like stuff that I feared was mold was the natural activity of Actinomycetes, a part-bacteria, part-fungus organism that aids decomposition in certain parts of a compost pile.
Mr. Campbell’s book also introduces a great many different types of compost piles and composters that you can use, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, what area you have to work with, or what you’re trying to decompose. He also suggests many ways to use compost in and around your garden, and how to get the most out of it.
I’m finally getting ready to start composting again (first time since we moved almost four years ago), and I thought it would be fun to read up on it again and re-familiarize myself with it. I’m glad I picked up Mr. Campbell’s book, because I learned an incredible amount of new material!